May tells Putin ‘you will not succeed’
• British Prime Minister Theresa May Monday accused Russia of meddling in elections, hacking Western governments and pursuing its interests “at any cost” as she warned Vladimir Putin: “We know what you are doing and you will not succeed.”
In one of her most forthright attacks on the Russian president, the prime minister accused Russia of “weaponizing information” and “planting fake stories and photoshopped images” in an attempt to undermine the West.
Addressing the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, May said Britain will work with allies to “take the necessary action” to ensure the Kremlin does not succeed in its campaign to “sow discord in the West” and cause a split among NATO allies.
“We do not want to return to the Cold War, or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation,” she said.
Her speech comes amid claims Russia sought to influence the American elections and follows evidence suggesting Putin’s regime runs social media accounts designed to stir up racial and religious tensions in the U.K. and Europe.
One such account, backed by the Russian government, tweeted a picture of a Muslim woman on Westminster bridge during the terror attack in March, alleging she ignored the injured and was talking on her phone instead. The tweet stirred up a racist backlash but it was later revealed a series of other photographs showed her looking shocked and upset.
The government has previously said the U.K. wants to work with Russia but adopts an “engage but beware” strategy because of fears about the way the country operates.
Putin has made no secret of his use of propaganda tools.
Speaking at the event in London last night, May said: “It is Russia’s actions which threaten the international order on which we all depend.
“Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe.
“Since then, Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbas, repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries, and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption.”
The prime minister added: “We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.
“The U.K. will do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and work with our allies to do likewise.”
She called on Putin to “choose ... a different path” and help promote “international stability” by working with other Western nations, not against them.
THE U.K. WILL DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO PROTECT OURSELVES.